Collection: A Spanish Songbook

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COMPOSERS: Fuenllana,Gerhard,Granados,Guridi,Ravel,Schumann,Vasquez,Walton,Wolf
LABELS: Conifer
WORKS: Songs by Fuenllana, Vasquez, Wolf, Schumann, Ravel, Granados, Walton, Gerhard, Guridi
PERFORMER: Jill Gomez (soprano)John Constable (piano)
CATALOGUE NO: CDCF 243 DDD

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This intriguing anthology traces not only the development of Spanish song from the mid-16th century to the 20th, but also its influence on composers throughout Europe (among them Schumann, Delibes, Saint-Saëns and Ravel) – the only obvious omissions are Shostakovich’s dazzling but neglected Spanish Songs (Op. 100). The Anglo-Spanish soprano Jill Gomez is an accomplished and attractive performer, who slips effortlessly from Spanish into German, and French into English.

Unfortunately, however, a tedious homogeneity pervades the disc. Her uniform approach marvellously brings out the Spanishness of all the songs – the two from Wolf’s Spanisches Liederbuch have rarely sounded so authentically Iberian – but it is disappointing to hear Granados’s searing tonadillas ‘La maja dolorosa’ sung with such a lack of passion.

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And while her carefully delicate and sensitive tone effectively brings out the plangency of a piece such as Fuenllana’s ‘Duélete de mi, Señora’, one longs for something riskier and more robust on Tarragó’s playful ‘Parado de Valldemosa’, Bizet’s thrilling ‘Guitare’, Obradors’s scorching ‘El vito’ and even Walton’s mysterious settings of two bizarre poems by Edith Sitwell. John Constable’s accompaniment is solid but uninspiring. Claire Wrathall